Viking Metal is a type of music in the metal genre based on Scandinavian culture and mythology. It was formed in the late 80s and early 90s in Sweden and Norway. The founders of Viking metal as a separate genre are considered to be the Swedish group Bathory, which previously performed black metal.
The main feature of Viking metal songs and albums dedicated to German-Scandinavian mythology, the history of the Vikings and paganism. Most Viking metal artists are indigenous Scandinavians, and their music is most often based on folk music traditions. Therefore, Viking metal is very close to the folk metal genre.
Some groups write the lyrics of their songs in Old Norwegian (aka Old Norse), Swedish, Finnish, Icelandic and other languages. Very often a white verse is used in songs (used by Scandinavian skalds to add vis), that is, songs do not rhyme. In particular, such an example is common for translating ancient Scandinavian ballads to metal: originally Scandinavian ballads, descended from Scaldic verses, are not rhymed.
Viking metal is heterogeneous in music. It was created by bands that previously performed black metal. Over time, a growing mix with folk metal came into the genre. Currently, most of the new bands that classify as Viking metal perform a mixture of folk and black metal. Significant influence on the genre had such directions as power metal, heavy metal and others. Viking metal usually uses a clear voice, but growling vocals and growling are also common.
Viking metal is determined partly by music and partly by subject, so the attribution of a group to a Viking metal is a matter of debate. Someone relates to Viking metal, but some do not, such extremely controversial examples as death metal Amon Amarth, doom metal Doomsword, symphonic metal Leaves Eyes. At the same time, there are a number of groups that are similar in sound to the classics of Viking metal, but differ in themes. They are usually referred to as folk metal or pagan metal.
Other early Viking metallers who appeared in the late 80s and early 90s include Falkenbach, Einherjer, and Ancient Rites. Like Bathory, these bands began with black metal and then moved on to a new genre. These groups used folk arrangements, folk melodies and instruments in their music, which emphasized the commitment of musicians to national roots.
This movement towards folk music gradually changed Viking metal. By the 2000s, the basis of the genre began to make up groups mixing Viking with folk metal (Turisas, Tyr, Equilibrium, Ensiferum, Finntroll, Moonsorrow). The themes of wars, campaigns, and Scandinavian mythology remained unchanged. So, Tyr recorded the albums Eric the Red and How Far to Asgaard; Turisas in 2007 released the concept album The Varangian Way, dedicated to sailing a Viking squad along the path "from the Varangians to the Greeks."
A similar phenomenon to Viking metal has arisen in other countries, for example in Russia: a mixture of folk and black metal, with texts devoted to mythology and paganism. Since the word “Viking” refers only to the Scandinavians, the notion of pagan metal (pagan- “pagan”) appeared to refer to such groups. The most striking domestic representatives: Arkona, Northern Gate, Butterfly Temple, Nevid, Alkonost, Tumulus, Nomans Land, Satanakozel, Pagan Reign, Rarog.